Gymnasts pounce on Southern Utah

ccripe@idahostatesman.comJanuary 25, 2014 

Highlights from the Broncos' win on Jan. 24.

IDAHO STATESMAN

Junior gymnast Ciera Perkins has added polish to the amplitude that marked her as a future standout from the time she walked into the Broncos’ gym.

Perkins won all three of her events Friday night at Taco Bell Arena as Boise State routed Southern Utah. She scored a career-high 9.925 on vault, career-high 9.925 on bars and career-high-tying 9.875 (tied for first) on floor.

“She’s absolutely incredible,” said junior Kelsey Morris, who scored a career-best 39.15 as the meet’s only all-arounder. “She’s one of the most amazing athletes I’ve ever experienced.”

Perkins also scored 9.85 or better on all three of her events a week earlier. So far this season, her worst score in nine routines is a 9.8.

She uses her athleticism to get big air that helps her land those gaudy scores.

“That’s probably the most confidence I’ve had in a while, after that vault,” Perkins said. “A lot of people talk about how much hops I get, but finally it’s starting to kick in — the landings.”

The Broncos scored a season-high 196.025 as a team, with a 49-plus on every event but beam (48.775). They already had posted the best season-opening score in school history. Now they’ve added a rare January 196. Southern Utah scored 195.05.

“To get to a 196 by our third meet is a really big accomplishment,” Morris said. “The coaches are really excited about it and I know that the team is. I’m glad we got that number.”

The Broncos scored 195.85 in their first meet, at Utah, and 195.15 in their second, at home, while building a 4-1 record.

The difference Friday was the season-best score on beam.

“We stayed on the beam,” co-coach Neil Resnick said. “We had enough kids stay up there. We were so close, chasing that score, the last couple meets. If you stay on your feet, I think this is a 196 gymnastics team.”

Morris, as usual, provided steady leadership as the team’s only four-event participant. She scored 9.725 on vault, 9.825 on bars, 9.725 on beam and 9.875 on floor.

The Broncos (5-1) compete at Southern Utah next Friday. They aren’t home again until Feb. 21.

WOMEN’S SWIMMING AND DIVING

The Broncos get a rare chance to showcase their talent to the local community the next two Saturdays.

They will honor their seniors this week against Denver (12:30 p.m., Boise West YMCA) and battle Pac-12 opponent Oregon State on Feb. 1 (noon, Boise West YMCA; meet includes the Big Splash event with football players).

Those are the last two competitions before the Mountain West meet begins Feb. 19 in San Antonio.

“We are definitely in a position to be the best Boise State swimming and diving team that’s been here, in our eighth year,” said coach Kristin Hill, the program’s first coach.

The Broncos won the 2010 and 2011 WAC championships and 2012 Mountain West championship. But this team has better divers and is deeper, with a strong freshman class, Hill said.

Senior Ciera Cortney could become the first Boise State diver to reach the NCAA meet, Hill said.

Freshman swimmers Brittany Aoyama (second, 100-yard butterfly), Felicity Cann (first, 100 freestyle; third, 500 freestyle), Katelyn Martin (second, 50 freestyle) and Whitney Jorgensen (second, 400 individual medley) rank in the top three in their events in the Mountain West.

“We have some really fast freshmen this year,” said senior Rachel Heaney, an NCAA qualifier last year. “It has fired up the team a lot and I think they’ve pushed our sophomores and our sophomores are pushing our juniors. Everybody is working together.”

Aoyama appreciates that camaraderie and competition. She, like many swimmers, came from an individualized club background.

“I’ve really learned the team aspect of college swimming,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed contributing to the team and making great friendships.”

Heaney is one of five seniors who will be honored Saturday. The senior day ceremony is during the second-to-last meet because the divers won’t be at the last meet.

Heaney was named the team’s most valuable swimmer last year with a school record and Mountain West title in the 200 butterfly. She finished 39th at the NCAAs.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM ON A ROLL

The Broncos (9-8, 4-2 Mountain West) have won three in a row and five of seven entering their 3 p.m. Saturday game at San Jose State (8-10, 2-5).

Boise State won three Mountain West games last season, but are fourth in the standings entering the weekend. The Broncos had four scorers in double figures in their last game, a 74-60 home win over New Mexico on Wednesday.

Kayla Reinhart led with 15 points. In the Broncos’ 17 games, eight players have led the team in scoring.

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